Dripping Yarns with David Arnold – the Lewes FC posters that caused a national media frenzy

Lewes Poster Special
Lewes Poster Special

If you live in or around Lewes then you are highly unlikely to have missed the imaginative and often very powerful images that feature on the Lewes Football Club match posters.

Indeed, they have been highlighted in this column on several occasions ever since the first appeared about a year and a half ago, at the start of the 2011-2012 season.

It took the rest of the media quite a long time to catch up with the Sussex Express but when they did – boy, what a splash they made.

Over a recent period of some 10 days, the eye-catching posters popped up everywhere – including a fulsome half page in The Independent and pieces in The Sunday Times and online Daily Mail. 

The biggest coup came with television coverage when extensive stories featuring the posters and the Dripping Pan itself appeared on both the BBC South Today and Meridian local news programme – in the same week!

Mastermind behind the poster publicity campaign is Charlie Dobres, volunteer Marketing Manager for the Rooks (I believe the design agencies who have helped co-create the posters – this season East Communications, and last season Proworx, – deserve some credit too? Sports Ed).

I asked Charlie what was his secret of success in getting so much of the media to focus on a small town non-league club – indeed, a club that has struggled to find success on the pitch this season.

“I think it’s because Lewes FC has broken the mould with this pretty much unique football poster campaign but above all in its pioneering community-ownership structure,” said Charlie.

“This small club is genuinely in the vanguard of an important revolution in football.”

It doesn’t do any harm either having the odd well-known fan willing to help out with publicity. In particular, on one occasion last week, Rooks supporter Dave Come Dine With Me Lamb was happy to be interviewed down at the ground for a piece that went out on last Friday’s BBC regional news.

Charlie added: “I was also very pleased that, for the ITV coverage, they let me wear a Lewes Football Club shirt with the Specsavers logo on, our hugely supportive shirt sponsor for this season.”

As a poster distributor with a round that takes me all over town, I can vouch for the effectiveness of the posters.

Not everyone likes every image but invariably they attract comment and spark conversations. A lot of people are now collecting the posters.

Indeed, Lewes FC Head of Development Martin Clayton reports a surge of requests for posters. These are coming not just from Lewes but from all over the country and even abroad.

Martin says: “I have been astonished in the last week to get orders from as far afield as California, Norway, Sweden, Germany, France and the Netherlands. What we are now doing is offering a free poster to anyone signing up for Lewes FC ownership before the end of March.

“We already have over 900 people paying £30 per year in return for a share and a vote in the running of club. Being an owner includes access to valuable discounts for a host of local shops and services. I hope that the impetus from this poster exposure helps us reach our goal of 1,000 owners by the end of the season.”